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Institute recognized for fundraising efforts

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Members of an iPad users group get some practice on their tablets during a class offered through OLLI. Photo courtesy of Chico State.

Chico State’s chapter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has received nationwide recognition.

The silver award was presented to the Center for Regional and and Continuing Education, the coordinator of marketing for the institute, by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association during their annual marketing awards in Atlanta, Georgia, according to a Chico State news release.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers class schedules for community members of Chico, Paradise, Oroville and Willows 50 years of age and older. Classes ranging from history to mystery, from fitness to finance are taught by Chico State faculty emeriti and community members.

The institute devised a membership and fundraising goal—the first ever in the institutes 25-year history—with two parameters:

  • Increase membership to more than 1,000 members
  • Raise at least $15,000 for more than 10 percent of its membership

The institute met those goals and then soared past them, raising almost $22,000 in the first quarter and growing to 1,069 members. This was an increase in membership of 24 percent from the previous years, according to the news release. Osher Lifelong Learning Institute also increased its membership revenue by 56 percent, added 56 classes totaling to 172 for the academic year, doubling the number of volunteer instructors from 67 to 135 and adding a summer session.

“The challenge embedded in the campaign triggered a spark within the organization and among OLLI members that fueled the largest increase in volunteer participation in the history of the organization,” said Program Director Ann Nikolai in a news release. “With just one full-time staff member and an extremely limited budget, this surge in member participation was key to the successful implementation of our plan and achieving its goals.”

For their efforts, the institute has been nominated to receive a $1 million endowment from its parent organization, The Bernard Osher Foundation.

This is not the first time Chico State and the learning institute has been nominated for the endowment. In 2007, Chico State’s “Prime Timers,” an organization dedicated to teaching individuals in retirement, was nominated and won a $1 million endowment.

The institute’s continued efforts to increase membership and fundraising lead them to be nominated for the endowment a second time.

“This has always been a goal of the institute, as far back as its Prime Timers years,” Nikolai said. “Getting to this next major benchmark of 1,000 members and a robust annual campaign, however, required a major effort on the part of many people over a short period of time. Our success reflects the commitment our members have made to continued education and to making this kind of unique resource affordably available to so many.”

The Osher Foundation’s board of directors will announce which organizations will be receiving the $1 million endowment in December.

David McVicker can be reached at [email protected] or @DavidPMcVicker on Twitter.

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